Magazine article Policy & Practice

Our Do'ers Profile

Magazine article Policy & Practice

Our Do'ers Profile

Article excerpt

In Our Do'ers Profile, we highlight some of the hardworking and talented individuals in public human services. This issue features Sherri Z. Heller, Director of the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services.

Name: Sherri Z. Heller

Title: Director, Department of Health and Human Services, County of Sacramento, CA

Years Of Service: County government: college internship in child protective services intake, several years as director of mental health/ mental retardation/drug and alcohol services, and an eventful/educational tenure as Lancaster County (PA) Administrator. State government: aide to President Pro Tern of Pennsylvania State Senate; posts in policy analysis, program evaluation, and budget/finance at Department of Education; Deputy Secretary of Income Maintenance for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, responsible for implementing welfare reform. Federal service (Washington, D.C.): Commissioner, Office of Child Support Enforcement (HHS). Private sector: As a contractor, I led business process re-engineering projects, helping state and local human service agencies nationwide cope with budget cuts and increased demand.

Rewards of the Job: There are no silos here on the front lines. I love social service and law enforcement professionals agreeing on the value of treating mental illness and addiction. I enjoy having behavioral health and child protective services (CPS) in the same department here in Sacramento County-no finger-pointing-we're accountable for all the pieces. I also love the public health programs, which protect everybody, regardless of income, but creativity is needed to effectively address health disparities. I also enjoy rolling out the Medicaid expansion and seeing vulnerable adults get preventive care and medical homes for the first time.

Accomplishments Most Proud Of: My most memorable moment was in a day care center full of subsidized kids, during welfare reform; I saw two children playing with dolls in the free play corner. One says to the other: "You get the fax. I'll make the copies." It hit me that we were creating a generation of children whose moms work and who expect to grow up and have jobs. Another breakthrough: Bridging the gap between domestic violence victim advocates and the child support program, and overcoming a lot of mutual distrust. …

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